Moving into a new home within an HOA community is an exciting start that requires a few adjustments. Homeowner associations (HOAs) exist to protect the property rights of residents and ensure visual uniformity. 

Before moving into an HOA community, it is essential to read through and ask questions about various rules imposed by the board of directors through the association’s governing documents (the CC&Rs and bylaws).

Here are 5 things you might not know about HOAs:

HOA Bylaws May Not Contradict State Laws

The rules and regulations imposed by HOAs have a legal standing that allows them to be enforced against the homeowners. However, these laws need to comply with a given state’s laws. Most homeowners do not know their state laws and may spend time, resources, and efforts complying with restrictions that the HOA cannot legally enforce. Take time to research and understand your state laws to ensure the rules your HOA is enforcing are legally allowable.

You Can Fight An HOA Ruling or Bylaw

HOAs have rules and regulations that govern a lot of homeowners’ privileges, such as where to park specific vehicles, lawn maintenance, exterior paint colors, and even the number of pets you can own. If you feel that the HOA board has passed rules that are not in the neighborhood’s best interest, you can present your argument to a court. You can speak to a lawyer who specializes in HOA laws if you feel that you are being treated unfairly or unlawfully. 

Approvals or Renovations

Before putting an addition on your home, you may need permission from the HOA board. An HOA board can regulate the kind of addition you can build on your home, down to the size and color. Some boards even have the power to determine if you can make renovations in the first place. This applies to other home upgrades such as building a patio or deck, putting up a storage shed or a pool in your backyard. The HOA can force you to remove the improvements through a court order if it changes the uniformity of the community or violates the HOA governing documents.

HOAs May Have Strange Bylaws

Do you love the smell of freshly dried sheets in the sun? Your HOA can charge you a fine for hanging laundry outdoors. However, your state can overrule such restrictions and penalties. Line-drying facilitates energy conservation, and some states have adopted the right-to-dry laws. At least 19 states have prohibited the enforcement of odd HOA bylaws, such as hanging your clothes out in the sun to dry. Some HOAs also limit the kind of pets you can keep. They may allow for small indoor pets such as cats and small dogs while excluding large breeds.

Discriminate Un-discriminatingly

Homeowner associations are known to enforce laws that may sometimes cross the line. An HOA cannot execute and enact rules or bylaws that may disadvantage or single out any group of people. This law is highlighted in the Fair Housing Act and protects all groups of people. It discourages discrimination of any sort and protects all homeowners.

A recent survey conducted by the American Home Associated showed that 92% of people living in HOA communities had positive experiences with HOAs. Although HOAs can sometimes feel restrictive, they will help protect your assets and the value of your home.

What Can You Do To Improve Your HOA-Run Community?

If you choose to live in a community governed by an HOA, it’s important for you to be involved in the community. 
Every HOA has an annual election process to appoint new board members. The HOA board is responsible for the various rules enforced in the community and if you don’t like a particular rule or bylaw, it’s important for you to be involved in the voting process. HOA elections are sometimes run internally or an HOA may be required to hire an independent 3rd party election inspector like Professional Election Inspectors. In either case, be sure to be involved and know the process. Electing the right members to the board to make the right decisions goes a long way in making your community enjoyable.

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